Ruth Bader Ginsburg underwent nonsurgical treatment for a benign gallbladder condition Tuesday afternoon at John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, a court spokeswoman said in a statement.
After the court’s first day of oral arguments by phone Monday morning, Ginsburg went for outpatient tests at a hospital in Washington. Those tests, according to the statement, “confirmed that she was suffering from a gallstone that had migrated to her cystic duct, blocking it and causing an infection.”
Ginsburg is currently “resting comfortably” and will participate in Wednesday’s oral arguments by phone from the hospital. She expects to stay in the hospital for a “day or two.”
The justices are hearing oral arguments by telephone because of Covid-19, and Wednesday they are scheduled to hear a case concerning the Affordable Care Act’s so-called contraceptive mandate.
Ginsburg has a lengthy history of medical issues.
She missed oral arguments for the first time in January 2019, while recovering from surgery after two cancerous nodules were removed from her left lung the month prior. At the time, she participated in the cases by reading transcripts. The liberal justice had already received treatment in November 2018 for three ribs she fractured during a fall in her office. And in August 2019, she was treated for pancreatic cancer.
As a result, her health has come under increased scrutiny as the court grapples with wide-reaching cases that can transform American law. Since coming to office, President Donald Trump has made two appointments, Neil Gorsuch in 2017 and Brett Kavanaugh in 2018, deepening the conservative tilt.
But even in the face of health complications, Ginsburg has remained an active participant on the high court — including during Tuesday’s oral arguments, which were streamed live on CNN.
And last month, even though the Supreme Court was closed to the public due to the pandemic, Ginsburg was working out there. At the time, Kathy Arberg, the court’s spokeswoman, said the justice had her own exercise spot.
“At Justice Ginsburg’s request, the Court has set aside the limited private space next to its health facility for Justice Ginsburg to exercise. Her doctors share her view that the training sessions are essential to her well-being,” Arberg told CNN.
“The space is being used exclusively by the justice,” Arberg added. “No other justices are using the space, and the employee gym is closed to all users.”
The liberal icon is best known for her opinions related to civil rights issues, including the landmark case opening up the Virginia Military Institute to women.
Her dissents in recent years have continued to energize Democrats at a time when Republicans control the White House and Senate, and the Supreme Court moves rightward.
In 2013, Ginsburg was dubbed the “Notorious RBG,” a play on the late rapper Notorious B.I.G., as a response to a dissent she wrote when the court majority issued a milestone decision rolling back voting-rights protections.
She said last year she’ll “stay on the job” as long as she can “do it full steam.”
“I was OK this last term. I expect to be OK next term,” Ginsburg said. “And after that we’ll just have to see.”